Except Stadium Club. Stadium Club is objectively awesome. There, I said it.
But what I found in this trade allowed me to come up with several arbitrary categories and place cards that I subjectively found awesome into them. There's a little more structure in this post than usual, and I hope you like what's to follow.
Category #1: Jon Gray Rookie Cards
|2016 Bowman's Best #45 Jon Gray (RC)|
For the first time since their inaugural season, the Rockies are making some slight tweaks to that logo. The logo itself isn't changing, but they are switching to a different shade of their trademark purple. My eye didn't pick it up, but apparently the jerseys, hats, and printed logos didn't look that consistent in various applications. So now the Rockies purple logo looks more...purpley.
Branding is important, people.
|2016 Topps Bunt #141 Jon Gray (RC)|
But it seems like a pretty arbitrary rule to me. Especially since there is only one company making licensed cards these days.
Either way, it's good to see him appear in so many sets. That is a mark of success. Or at least hype. But a 16-strikeout shutout performance seems to indicate that he's the real deal.
Category #2: Uniform Numbers
|2016 Topps Update #US286 Gerardo Parra|
I couldn't tell you what number Parra wears (11? Nope, 8). but I hope to see Story's #27 at Coors Field for a long time to come. He wasn't the first to wear it; a slew of players I've never heard of or didn't know spent any time as a Rockie wore it in the early days. Garrett Atkins had it for a while, as did Todd Hollandsworth. But it's Story's now. And you never know when a player will come along who's the last to wear a number.
Which brings me to my next card.
|1995 Collector's Choice SE #208 David Nied|
Helton, of course, wore it proudly for seventeen seasons, coincidentally. And other than the league-wide retirement of Jackie Robinson's #42, it's the only number out of circulation at Coors Field. But the other major sports teams in Denver still use it, as neither the Nuggets, Avalanche, nor Broncos have had a superstar suit up with #17.
Category #3: Weird Fleer Cards
|2001 Fleer Legacy #82 Todd Helton|
This just looks lazy to me. If I had five minutes to design a baseball card, it would probably come out looking something like this. Solid white background, rectangular headshot that looks paperclipped on, an action shot, a one-letter logo in the corner with a drop shadow, and a basic all-caps font in two different colors.
I could literally do this in Microsoft Word.
It reminds me a little bit of that Jeff Francis autograph card, the one with all the empty space. But this is, frankly, bad. And worse, the back doesn't look any better. It has a couple shades of gray, the Rockies team logo that's oddly chopped in at least three places, and that same amateur Fleer logo. L is for Legacy.
Fleer was putting out an absolute ton of sets in the early 2000s, and there are only so many resources to go around. I don't think I've ever bashed a card design this harshly. But wow.
|2002 Fleer Premium #91 Jeff Cirillo|
So what's weird about it? Well, if you look closely, Cirillo is listed as a member of the Seattle Mariners. It's clearer on the back, as the Mariners logo and their sea green color are present. Or maybe it's aqua. Turquoise? Teal? I don't know. Us men are notorious for being able to recognize only about a dozen colors.
Category #4: Shiny Dante Bichette Cards
|1996 Upper Deck Predictor Retail Exchange #R42 Dante Bichette W|
Believe it or not, Dante Bichette really did lead the league in RBIs in June 1996, with 39, including four in that legendary 16-15 win over the Dodgers on June 30th. His base Retail Predictor card became eligible for redemption, and I am pretty sure this foil parallel (copper-colored, UD's favorite metal) is one of the actual redemption cards. It took quite a bit of research to figure this all out, though. It looks like UD put six wild cards in the set to ensure they'd have something to do with the redemption cards in case no one won, but out of over fifty other Retail Predictor cards, only Bichette, Sammy Sosa, and Jay Buhner actually lived up to the forecast.
It was a similar story with the Hobby Predictor version of this set. Bichette won NL Player of the Month that June, and Roger Cedeño led his category as well. There were numerous players found in both the Retail and Hobby insert sets, but Bichette was the only one to have a winning card in both.
|1996 Leaf Limited #48 Dante Bichette|
There's no copper to be found here, as this isn't an Upper Deck product. But there's a shiny finish, a bit of gold foil, a shot taken in the distinctive Shea Stadium, and a little purple on the edges to round things out.
I always liked him when I was a kid, especially because of that perpetual .310 batting average and how much he excelled with a two-strike count. I'm glad to have a couple more cards of him to remind me of that era and that season.
Category #5: Purple Borders
|2013 Topps Opening Day Toys R Us Purple Border #83 Wilin Rosario|
If you've finished your doctorate on Topps border parallels, you'll know that purple borders are a Toys 'R' Us exclusive. That's true for 2013 Opening Day, at least, as well as numerous other releases in the past few years. I haven't been in a Toys 'R' Us in ages. In fact, I couldn't even tell you where the nearest one is anymore. So these purple bordered cards are not something I run across very frequently. Neither Target nor Wal-Mart got exclusives in this Opening Day set, making this a pretty easy rainbow to complete, not counting the printing plates. Thanks to Brian, only the serial-numbered Blue parallel is missing from that rainbow.
The photo is similar to his shot in 2014 Stadium Club (mmmm, Stadium Club), but he's much more excited about the play that just occurred in that set, and he decided to switch over to Wilson for his chest protecting needs instead of All-Star.
|2016 Donruss Optic #9 Carlos Gonzalez DK|
There are a couple of spots, like the border around CarGo's action shot, that catch the light with a touch of rainbow finish, and this thick card feels good to hold. It's pretty similar to the average Donruss card that's come out since 2014, but I do see a smidgen of 1972 Topps' tombstone design in the frame.
The back could use some work, though. It's mostly gray, roughly the same shade as those Diamondbacks uniforms. It's a little hard to tell if the gray splotches that spill into the white areas on the back are part of the design or just smudges. And the letters are jammed really close together in his paragraph, quoting him as "Ijustwanttoapplythatonthefieldandbethe" before it wraps to the next line as "player everybody wants me to be." Hard to tell if there is a miniscule space between those words, but it's certainly not consistent between the two lines. Maybe someone botched a Find & Replace in their text editor.
At least they still follow what Upper Deck, Fleer, and Pacific did ages ago and told me what set this is part of in the fine print. For the love of the hobby, Topps, start doing that.
Category #6: Awesome Insert Cards
|1995 Stadium Club Power Zone #PZ6 Andres Galarraga|
The back provides 1994 stats for his performance at home as well as in five other parks. This was before Interleague Play, so all the sites are National League stadiums, some of which aren't there anymore, or at least aren't hosting baseball. Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium remain, but the Padres, Braves, and Marlins have new places to call home now.
This isn't the first time I've thrown this fact out there, but as new as Coors Field is, having opened in just 1995, it is already the third-oldest park in the National League.
|2016 Topps Opening Day Superstar Celebrations #SC-18 Carlos Gonzalez|
2007 notwithstanding, you can pretty much set your watch to it.
Regardless, none of that stopped Carlos Gonzalez from hitting a walk-off homer against the Dodgers on September 26th, 2015. Charlie Blackmon was sure to empty the Powerade cooler onto CarGo during his post-game interview, a moment that's forever documented on this Topps Opening Day insert card.
|2014 Topps Opening Day Stars #ODS-9 Troy Tulowitzki|
Category #7: Hits
|2010 Topps Pro Debut Prospect Autographs #PDA-CB Charlie Blackmon S2 (AU)|
This is a candidate for Category #2, but that sticker auto helps put it into a category of its own. Not long after this card was printed, I started seeing Blackmon jerseys pop up at Coors Field. At the time, I found that odd. I had heard the name, but for some reason thought he was a front-office guy or part of the ownership group or something. I didn't know the farm system or the prospects even five years ago nearly as well as I do now. Part of the reason is that I almost never buy minor league cards, but also that the pipeline wasn't as promising back then.
|2008 Upper Deck Spectrum Spectrum Swatches #SS-GA Garrett Atkins /99 (MEM)|
I do enjoy relic cards, especially when they have a low print run like this. It's a bonus when the swatch matches the jersey in the photograph, but that is never a sure thing. Sometimes these even have pinstripes, which is not something that every team's collector has a chance to find. Since this is a 2008 card, this is probably from the 2007 season, meaning there's a chance this is from a pretty special period in Rockies history.
|2007 UD Masterpieces Captured on Canvas #CC-GA Garrett Atkins (MEM)|
Especially because they spelled "masterpieces" correctly.
Category #8: Green Topps Finest Cards
|1994 Finest Superstar Samplers #35 Andres Galarraga|
1994 Finest has made plenty of appearances around here, but this happens to be a Superstar Sampler parallel, which I've never heard of before. I know about the pre-production versions, and of course there is the base version. All I need is the refractor to complete the rainbow.
Apparently Topps picked 45 cards from the Finest base set, printed up these partial parallels with a circular red seal on the back, and included them as promos in Baker's Dozen varieties of 1994 Topps factory sets, along with a similar Bowman and Stadium Club card of the same player. I vaguely remember my old Beckett magazines referring to those factory sets, but I had no idea what made them so special. I've never seen a Bowman or Stadium Club Superstar variety, or at least if I did, I never flipped it over. I'll have to check my 1994 binders now that I know these exist.
Good thing I'm not a Griffey collector. I'm sure his card from this set sells for some ridiculous amount of money. Probably not the $2,000 that his 1993 Finest Refractor goes for, but still more than I'd care to spend.
|2014 Finest Gold Refractors #30 Carlos Gonzalez /50|
I feel like I have a pretty good memory, and my mom is often in awe of the encyclopedic knowledge I seem to have about this sport and the hobby. I have no idea how some people remember who sent them each card in their collection, where they got it, even how much they paid. I can remember that for my most special cards, but I had to look through my past blogs to figure out where the base card came from. I had originally thought it was Julie, who recently made a triumphant return to the Cardsphere, but that was an incorrect guess. Unless she sent a second copy.
I think to a larger degree than most of us would care to admit, these blogs are for us just as much as they are for our audience. There were a lot of great cards in this trade, and I'm sure I'll be referring back once The Trading Post #180 rolls around.